Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three "Back Alley Butchers" and a Safe and Legal Provider

A Shady Doctor in 1884

Twenty-five-year-old Lizzie Cook, a domestic servant, died suddenly on July 27, 1884, in Lockport, New York.Dr. Ira T. Richmond (alias of Dr. Ira Butler) was arrested. Richmond, age 46, had come to Lockport a year earlier and opened a sanitarium, "which died for want of patronage." This might be due to the fact that, as the Chicago Inter Ocean reported on July 30, 1884, Richmond "had a dubious character among physicians."

Evidently Lizzie's brother-in-law, William, had taken her to Richmond's practice, where she was examined in his presence and diagnosed with dropsy and blood poisoning. Two days later, she was put to bed at Bowen's house at about 11:00 at night, and remained there sick for nearly three weeks before her death in the afternoon of July 27. Richmond attended to her on a daily basis, sometimes visiting more than once a day, during that time.

By Saturday evening, her body had already been packed in ice and taken to her parents' home. She was buried on Monday morning after a large funeral. "The secrecy in getting her body removed to her home created suspicion," so her body was exhumed that afternoon for an autopsy that revealed signs that she had died from a surgically performed abortion.

Richmond was immediately arrested and charged with either first degree murder or first degree manslaughter, according to differing sources. He pleaded not guilty, insisting that Lizzie had not been pregnant when she died and had died of dropsy and blood poisoning. "The evidence is strong against him, however," said the July 30, 1884 Cincinnati Enquirer. Sentiment against Richmond was so strong there fears that he would be lynched.

Richmond was convicted of first degree manslaughter on October 21, 1884. I have so far been unable to determine if his Canadian wife's testimony about his doings there was admitted into evidence. The jury recommended mercy. After requesting and being denied a new trial, Richmond/Butler was sentenced to six years of hard labor at Auburn Prison.


A Doctor Indicted, 1920

On July 27, 1920, 38-year-old homemaker Adelaide Fowler died at her Chicago home after a criminal abortion. Dr. Barney Welty was arrested, and indicted by a Grand Jury on August 1 but, for reasons I have been unable to determine, the case never went to trial.

Safe and Legal in Florida, 1974

Gina Gardner, a 17-year-old cheerleader at Gulf Comprehensive High School in West Pasco, Florida went into convulsions almost immediately after Dr. James R. Lund administered the local anesthetic Lidocaine. That was the fourth time he administered the drug to Gina while she was still under the effects of an initial dose of Demerol for her abortion. Gina was hospitalized but died the following day, July 27, 1974.

Gina's mother, Patricia Kennedy, had to wrangle to even bring the case to court because of a recently-passed Florida law regarding medical malpractice cases.

An Erstwhile Back-Alley Butcher, 1985

Dr. Bejmanim Munson
Eighteen-year-old Yvonne Mesteth was the second of two patients to die of infection after safe and legal abortions by South Dakota abortionist Benjamin Munson. (The other was Linda Padfield.) Yvonne was in the second trimester of her pregnancy when Munson performed the abortion in his Rapid City clinic. She developed an infection, kidney failure, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. She died on July 27, 1985. Despite having already killed Linda Padfield, Munson was welcomed into the National Abortion Federation.

Munson is the third former criminal abortionist I've learned of who had a clean record -- no patient deaths -- as a criminal abortionist, only to go on to kill two patients in his legal practice. The others are Milan Vuitch (Georgianna English and Wilma Harris) and Jesse Ketchum (Margaret Smith and Carole Schaner).

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